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UEL lecturers celebrate stunning Turner Prize triumph

uel architecture urbanism students

Adam Willis and Lewis Jones part of ‘Assemble’ collective honoured with top arts award

UEL architecture lecturers Adam Willis and Lewis Jones were celebrating after they and fellow members of a Stratford-based architecture and design practice were crowned winners of the Turner Prize 2015 – the UK’s most prestigious visual arts award.

The two lecturers are members of the ‘Assemble’ collective, which was honoured for its imaginative Granby Four Streets project in Toxteth, Liverpool. The work involved renovating and beautifying empty homes using low-cost materials and artisan craft skills.

Lewis Jones said, "It’s great that the value of the creative process that’s happened in Granby can be recognised at this level, and that’s fantastic.
 
“For some people it’s art, and through that project there’s houses provided and products made.
 
“I hope this award helps give recognition and value to different ways of creating places in our cities and around our homes.”

Two other Assemble members, Paloma Strelitz and James Binning, are former lecturers at UEL.

The group’s victory is another feather in the cap for UEL’s School of Architecture, Computing and Engineering, which is already ranked No 1 in London for student satisfaction in architecture.

In a further UEL connection, ACE students were involved in preliminary research on a neighbouring housing estate in Bootle– a precursor of the Granby Four Streets project.

The Dean of UEL’s School of Architecture, Computing, and Engineering, Dr Hassan Abdulla, was full of praise for the UEL lecturers.

“They have brought a special combination of technical skill and a real-life concern for improving lives to UEL and our students,” said Dr Abdulla.
 
“I am proud to count such talented people among the staff in our architecture department.”

Carl Callaghan, Head of Architecture at UEL, said, “Adam, Lewis and the rest of the collective thoroughly deserve their win.

“Their rich and diverse portfolio of work highlights the concerns we have for professionalism, skill, and a passionate concern for architecture and design that is rooted in theory and sustainability, and that is engaged with the local community.
 
“Assemble’s work in Liverpool is an inspiration for our students.”  

Assemble beat off opposition from artists Bonnie Camplin, Nicole Wermers and Janice Kerbel to claim the £25,000 first prize at an awards ceremony in Glasgow on Dec 7 2015.
 
The group were clear favourites in the run-up to the ceremony, receiving glowing coverage in The Guardian, The Observer and The London Evening Standard.

Rowan Moore, architecture critic of The Observer, wrote, “Assemble represents values profoundly opposite to those of the current directions of property and planning and of the architects who serve them.

“They champion the unquantifiable benefits of, in particular, human society, of people enjoying life together because it is better than doing it on their own. Assemble promote value over price.”

On the back of their nomination, Assemble have set-up a new social enterprise, Granby Workshop, teaching artisan skills to locals and manufacturing handmade products for homes. 

This is the second time that a member of UEL staff has won the Turner Prize. Professor Grenville Davey, course leader of the University’s MA Fine Art degree, triumphed in 1992 for his steel sculpture, HAL.